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Friday, June 24, 2011

Reality is in the Eye of the Beholder

Relationships are difficult because we usually think we are the reasonable ones. Then why do we sometimes seem unreasonable to others? Because reality is always in the eye of the beholder. And that is why if we can take a split second to imagine there might be something else going on than what we are just about to react to, we can effect a different outcome. We can effect a different outcome because we will be having a different emotional reaction to the same scene. Instead of being angry, depressed, or upset in some way which we will then feel we must communicate to the other person, we will be okay and connected to them instead of distancing them . This holds true at home or at work.

Case in point from my own life.

My husband and I were cleaning up the patio. I was using the blower and my husband asked me to stop doing the patio and, instead, blow the wood chips out of the back of his car so he could move it and not get the blower dust from the patio all over his car. I was quite willing to do this and headed in the direction of his car. I stopped on my way to the car and asked him to move the two dog pads off the patio.

HIS REALITY: I wasn’t doing what he wanted by blowing the wood chips out of the car first and, instead, was asking him to move the pads so I could continue to blow off the patio.

MY REALITY: I was on the way to the car to do what my husband asked and only stopped to ask him to move the dog pads because I didn’t want to be late for yoga class and this would save me time when I came back to blow off the patio.

Result: he got angry and threw the dog pads aside in disgust. I was annoyed by his temper which I thought was uncalled for.

Later when we discussed the really inconsequential incident (it’s easier to discuss inconsequential incidents than huge big disputes) my husband said he would have been quite willing to move the dog pads to make it faster for me if he realized I was going to do his car first before continuing to blow off the patio.  Therefore he wouldn’t have been angry and upset and neither would I.

Actually at first when we discussed the incident, it wasn’t so successful and my husband said:
“So what you are telling me is that I shouldn’t reveal my feelings to you, that I should hide my anger from you.“

Of course that wasn’t the point and we finally got to the point. The point that was most difficult for my husband to see is that had he seen a different reality, he wouldn’t have been angry in the first place. It wasn’t a matter of not being honest about “communicating our feelings” is was a matter of seeing a different reality causes us to have different feelings.  This is why some wise man once said “an unexamined life isn’t worth living.” 

LESSON FOR US: My husband could examine his negative emotions to see if he could look at the situation in a different way and see a different reality. I could communicate my intentions more clearly even if I'm in a hurry.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

"This holds true at home or at work..." This holds true on a micro or macro level, on a personal or a global level.

International disuputes would occur less frequently and would be less damaging if we could see through the lenses of other cultures.

Obviously, world peace and harmony at home are worthy goals, so why don't we just make the effort to broaden our perspective, to be understanding, to walk a mile in another's mocassins?

It must be easier to process in terms of right and wrong, good or bad, than to practice real acceptance and openess...though most of us would describe ourselves as being accepting and open!

It is very gratifying on a certain level to make oneself right and the other wrong. How am I supposed to fee superior if I accept another? Isn't more satisfying to berate someone for being wrong-headed and obstinate?

If I stop to consider the other side, I don't get that little high from thinking, "If everyone just did things more like me, the world would be a better place."

Most of us can't put our ego satisfactions aside for the more substantial prizes of life. We'd rather feel we are "right" than create peace.